Russian President Medvedev visits disputed islands, angering Japan

November 1st, 2010 - 8:56 pm ICT by BNO News  

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (BNO NEWS) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday visited one of the the disputed south Kuril Islands, located in the far east of Russia and northern area of Japan.

Medvedev in Kuril Islands visited a geothermal station, a fish plant, Yuzhno-Kurlisk residents, and a kindergarten on Kunashiri Island, the southernmost island of the region, which is being disputed by Japan.

The islands are known in Russia as the Southern Kurlis, while in Japan, they are called Northern Territory. Medvedev’s visit marks the first from a Russian or Soviet leader.

The Russian President applauded the geothermal station, describing it as a good example of small energy facility development, producing energy at a rate three times lower than diesel-powered stations.

During his visit, an introduction of digital broadcasting was discussed as there are currently only four TV channels available in the area, but digital broadcasting would increase this to 22. He also spoke with residents regarding their social condition and healthcare services.

“We want people to remain here,” Medvedev said. “Development here is important. We will definitely be investing money here.”

In his meeting with Sakhalin Region Governor Alexander Khoroshavin, Medvedev called on further measures to improve social and life conditions in the islands.

The south Kuril Islands were seized from Japan by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and Monday’s visit made it clear that Russia has no plans to cede the mineral-rich territory despite strong protests from Japan.

The visit also comes at a time when Japan is disputing another group of Islands with China. Both Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara expressed their regret that the Russian President had visited the islands.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “this is Russian land and the Russian president is visiting Russian territory.”

“It is important that all our Japanese neighbors and all our partners understand that talking with Russia from a threatening position is pointless,” Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s international affairs committee chief, added.

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